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Friday, July 25, 2008

Cherriots responds re: Diesel Idling

The maintenance boss at Cherriots had this to say about the anti-idling post:
It has been a long standing practice of the Transit District not to idle buses at the transit mall except in the case where the outdoor temperature is less than 45 degrees or greater than 78 degrees. This is done for the comfort of our passengers. If you witnessed buses idling it is most likely because the temperature was greater than 78 degrees.
[Ummmm, I don't think so -- I've seen idling buses just about all year. But let's make it beyond dispute: how about Cherriots puts a couple big outdoor thermometers up high on the walls at the transit center with red lines at 78 and 45 degrees and paint the background green between those temperature lines with the words "No idling" -- that way everyone can know when the buses aren't supposed to be idling. And why not run a power cord to the bus to support the a/c and heat when the bus is parked -- why run a massive diesel just to run a/c and heating? And do we really need heat when it's 44F? Until we get power cords so that we don't ever need to idle the buses, why not reduce that lower limit to 38F and save a lot of fuel through the year?]
I have forwarded your concerns to the Operations Division so that appropriate follow up with the bus operators will be done just in case.

Our cost for diesel is priced competitively on a daily basis and since we do not pay state or federal taxes on fuel our cost is actually closer to the $2.60 per gallon than the $5 per gallon you mention. Despite this we still take it very seriously here when it comes to fuel costs.

Also, a majority of our buses run compressed natural gas which burns very clean. Our newest buses run clean diesel and meet the stricter 2007 emission requirements as well. If you continue to see buses idling at the transit mall please do not hesitate to contact me and I will follow up with the Operations Division.

Joe LaFreniere
Director of Maintenance & Technology
Salem-Keizer Transit
555 Court ST NE
Suite 5230
Salem, Oregon 97301
503-584-7722
joe@cherriots.org
[If only all public officials were as forthcoming and direct in response to inquiries and comments from citizens. I think that drivers might be getting sloppy about idling a little more than Mr. LaFreniere might realize, but you definitely have to appreciate his responsiveness to the concern.]

Food sovereignty

Everything is discussed at the national level, but it all applies to
the local level too. Even in Salem, in the heart of Oregon's best ag
county, we are totally dependent on cheap and abundant fossil fuels
for our food supplies. Time to start gardening, folks! Some choice
bits from a great piece.

Food Sovereignty and the Collapse of Nations
from The Oil Drum - Discussions about Energy and Our Future by Prof. Goose

. . . The idea that the Soviet collapse was due in part to the fact that the Soviet Union gave up on its capacity for food self sufficiency (food sovereignty) in an effort to pursue industrialization seems absent from his theory. All of this has interesting implications for the United States regarding our own food sovereignty as the rising cost of food means more people are priced out of a healthy diet.

Here in the United States about 40% of our population farmed for a living around the turn of the 20th century. By 1950 that number had dropped to 12%. Today fewer than 2% do the work of growing food in America as we too have industrialized and urbanized our population. The other 98% of us work at a job which provides us money that allows us to buy food from a small number of domestic producers and from others who grow it abroad. We have given up our own food sovereignty as a people and instead rely almost entirely on an economic system to provide us with meals. . . .

If the economic system in the United States, an economic system based on growth, runs up against a depletion of resources that physically slows or stops our ability to grow economically, will we face a similar collapse? Could our nation, like the Soviet Union, come to regret our willingness to hand over our food sovereignty? Will fewer jobs mean less food? If the American economy of growth falters, how will the 98% of non-farmers be able to buy bread? Are we in for a revolution when a certain percentage of the American people are unable to buy food? . . .

Many Americans think that, unlike the Soviets, we have real choice in this country about what they eat. But our choices are made by grocery store managers, transported to us by truckers and grown a thousand and a half miles away. Our choices are harvested by migrant workers who are paid poverty level wages or worse and grown under contract by corporations whose practices destroy local communities and the biodiversity of healthy ecosystems. Just because we buy our food at the grocery store doesn't mean we have any real control over how we fed our families. What we have is the illusion of control and in this regard we might be worse off than the Soviets in terms of susceptibility. In a country where most of our heavily lobbied congressional representatives support a farm bill that rewards the makers of cheap junk food to the detriment of our children and those who grow our fruits and our vegetables, can we really say that we have a choice in what we eat? How it's grown? What chemicals are sprayed on it? Would an agricultural revolution not also give us back real choice? . . .

The ability of a nation to feed itself locally is important in establishing any attempt at addressing the crises currently facing humankind. Rapid resource depletion, population migration, global climate change, peak energy, a pandemic illness or any combination of these converging calamities could lead to more conflict and the possible collapse of our current system of living. Facing these issues can best be handled through a collaborative effort involving real education and a democratic approach towards problem solving. A swift move towards self sufficiency, along with a return to local interdependency, could go a long way towards mitigating our problems and stabilizing our democratic goals and aims. We could learn something from the Soviets. Not the notion that large-scale communism is untenable -- we already know that -- but the idea that giving up our ability to grow food locally makes us more susceptible to an economic downturn. Can we use this insight to regain control over our food and our governing institutions before the real want of limits sets in? We shall see.

Correction

A local transportation planner sends this helpful correction:
Just a quick correction on your post from 13 July, "A must read: "Peak Convenience.""

SKATS is not proposing any bond, rather it is the city of Salem that will have a transportation bond measure on the November ballot.
However, this planner also agreed that the Salem transportation bond planned for this fall includes spending for a new bridge:
Salem's transportation bond measure does identify purchasing right-of-way for a Willamette River bridge to be identified as part of the on-going EIS work. I don't recall the dollar amount specified.
So, while LOVESalem appreciates the correction, it appears the gist of the article was correct already: the City of Salem -- the key member of SKATS -- is already planning to spend money we don't have to buy right-of-way for a bridge we don't need in a location we claim not to have selected yet (at least if you suppose that the outcome of the Environmental Impact Statement is anything but a foregone conclusion).